Want to record the ultimate aerial footage? DJI has a range of high powered cameras for its Inspire drone range. These are known as the Zenmuse series. Each model comes with with a variety of specs and features, so we have undertaken a thorough comparison to determine which are best. We will also let you know the current prices and which drones are compatible with which cameras.

Compatibility

First things first, we want to make it clear which drones can use which cameras.

  • The Inspire 1 is compatible with the Zenmuse X3, X5, and X5R.
  • The Inspire 1 Pro is equipped with the Zenmuse X5 (not interchangeable).
  • The Inspire 1 Raw is equipped with the X5R (not interchangeable).
  • The Inspire 2 is compatible with the Zenmuse X7, X5S, and

You should also be aware that DJI has a range of hand-held camera gimbals known as Osmo. They also incorporate the Zenmuse camera.

  • The Osmo Pro incorporates the Zenmuse X5.
  • The Osmo Raw incorporates the Zenmuse X5R.
  • The Osmo and Osmo+ incorporate the Zenmuse X3.

Megapixels

The more megapixels a camera has, the better it’s photos. One megapixel is one million pixels, and a pixel is a square of imagery. The more of these “squares” you have packed together, the more information is present in a photo.

The Zenmuse X7 is the clear winner with 24 megapixels. This allows it to take professional-level shots. The other cameras aren’t too far behind, except for the X3, which is a bit dated with just 12.4 megapixels.

Camera ModelMegapixels
Zenmuse X312.4
Zenmuse X516
Zenmuse X5R16
Zenmuse X4S20
Zenmuse X5S20.8
Zenmuse X724

+1 for the Zenmuse X7.

Shooting Video

All the Zenmuse cameras can film in ultra-high definition (4K). Some can even go higher with 5.2K and 6K. Take a look below at the frame rates for each mode (the higher, the better).

Camera ModelFrame Rate
Zenmuse X34K at 30fps
Zenmuse X54K at 30fps
Zenmuse X5R4K at 30fps
Zenmuse X4S4K at 60 fps
Zenmuse X5S4K at 60 fps

5.2K at 30 fps

Zenmuse X7 4K at 60 fps
5.2K at 30 fps
6K at 30fps

Keep in mind that if you plan to buy a Zenmuse X5S or X7 and shoot in 5.2K mode or 6K mode, then you are going to need a lot of SD card space and a lot of spare hard drives. Both modes are incredibly data-heavy at around 4Gbps. Now for even more bad news. To record in 6K mode or 5.2K mode, you will need to purchase a CinemaDNG license which costs around $1,000.

Even with the negatives, the Zenmuse X7 is still the most powerful camera for shooting video and wins the point for this category.

+1 for the Zenmuse X7.

Lens Options

The X3 comes equipped with a standard 20mm lens, and the X4S comes with an 8.8mm/F2.8-11 lens. The other models allow users to select their lens.

The table below shows the lens available for each camera.

Lens TypeMaximum ApertureCompatibilityCheck Current Price
Olympus 45mm Lens1:1.8X5S, X5R
Olympus EZ 14-42mm Lens1:3.5 (wide) / 1:5.6 (tele)X5R
Olympus 25mm Lens1:1.8X5S, X5R
Olympus 17mm M.ZUIKO Digital Lens1:1.8X5S, X5R
Olympus 9-18mm M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED Lens1:4.0 (wide) / 1:5.6 (tele)X5S
Olympus 12mm f2 M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED Lens1:2.0X5, X5S, X5R
DJI MFT 15mm Lens1:1.6X5, X5S, X5R
DL-S 16mm Lens1:2.8X7
DL 24mm Lens1:2.8X7
DL 35mm Lens1:2.8X7
DL 50mm Lens1:2.8X7

When selecting a lens the first thing to consider is the focal length. This is the number displayed in millimeters. For example, the DL 24mm Lens has a focal length of 24mm. The higher the number, the greater the zoom. The lower the number, the wider the shots will be. If there are two numbers, then it means the lens is adjustable to any point within that range.

The maximum aperture refers to the maximum amount of light that the lens can take in. The higher the number, the lower the amount of light the can pass through the lens. This means that a 1:2.8 lens gathers less light than a 1:1.6 lens.

The maximum aperture is an important factor to consider when shooting in low light conditions. It will determine if you require a flash or not, which will significantly affect the final appearance of the image.

Overall, the ability to select your own lens is really handy for photographers. Unfortunately, the X3 and X4S don’t provide this option.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5R.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S.

+1 for the Zenmuse X7.

Burst Mode

Burst modes allow photographers to capture multiple photographs in quick session. This is handy when filming sports, waves crashing on the beach, a moving vehicle, or another moving subject. Once the burst of shots is completed, it is easy to select the perfect image.

The table below shows the frame rate for each camera when operating in burst mode. This frame rate tells you how many photos it can capture per second.

Camera ModelBurst Mode Maximum Frames Per Second
Zenmuse X37
Zenmuse X57
Zenmuse X5R7
Zenmuse X4S14
Zenmuse X5S20
Zenmuse X720

The Zenmuse X7 and X5S are the winners here. They can capture up to 20 individual images a second.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S.

+1 for the Zenmuse X7.

Weight

The weight of each camera is something to consider as it will affect a drone’s flying time. Even small weight differences can have a noticeable impact. Look below to see the approximate weight of each camera. Just remember, this will vary slightly depending on which lens is selected.

Camera ModelApproximate weight (grams)
Zenmuse X3221
Zenmuse X5526
Zenmuse X5R583
Zenmuse X4S253
Zenmuse X5S461
Zenmuse X7449

The Zenmuse X3 is the lightest overall at 221 grams.

+1 for the Zenmuse X3.

Price

Shown below are the approximate Amazon prices for each camera. Unless otherwise stated each model is new and includes one lens.

Camera ModelApproximate PriceCheck Current Price
Zenmuse X3$900
Zenmuse X5$1,700
Zenmuse X5R$2,500
Zenmuse X4S$615
Zenmuse X5S$1,900
Zenmuse X7$2,700 without a lens. $7,000 with a four-lens set.

Current prices indicate that the Zenmuse X4S is most affordable.

+1 for the Zenmuse X4S.

Overall Score

We have tallied up the results for each camera, so check them out below.

Camera ModelScore
Zenmuse X31 (lightest)
Zenmuse X51 (lens options)
Zenmuse X5R1 (lens options)
Zenmuse X4S1 (price)
Zenmuse X5S2 (lens options, burst mode)
Zenmuse X74 (video recording, megapixels, lens options, burst mode)

Which Camera is Best, and Should I Buy It?

The Zenmuse X7 is the most powerful machine overall. In fact, it’s comparable to high-level professional filmmaking cameras. You will be able to take sharp photos at 24 megapixels and film video in 4K, 5.2K, and even 6K. The only issue is the hefty price tag. You’re going to need to pay $2,700 just for the camera then add on thousands for the lens. Oh, and don’t forget about the $1,000 CinemaDNG license if you want to film in 5.2K or 6K.

If you want to see more specs on each camera you can visit this DJI.com page.

The big question you need to ask is are you a professional or semi-professional filmmaker who needs to record in 5.2K or 6K. If not then you should consider one of the more affordable models, which brings us to the next question.

Which Camera is the Best Value for Money?

We reckon the Zenmuse X5S is the best value for money. At $1,900 you will be getting a darn powerful camera with the ability to film in 4K and 5.2K, as well as snap 20-megapixel photos. This makes it a more realistic purchase for the typical person when compared to the significantly more expensive Zenmuse X7.